Aurora City Council to consider limiting public comment at meetings

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AURORA | Aurora City Council member Nicole Johnston wants the public to be heard earlier and longer.

Johnston is balking at a proposal before city lawmakers to change city council meeting rules, which includes limiting public comment at city council meetings. 

The proposal would limit the public invited to be heard, which typically takes place near the beginning of the meeting, to just 30 minutes.

City council members stopped short of discussing that proposed change during a study session Monday night due to time. But as the meeting ended Johnston said she’d prefer if the city hosted a meeting with the public specific to those changes. The city is hosting a similar meeting with proposed updates to the city code regarding animal ordinances.

The council rule revisions are from an ad hoc committee called up by council member Marsha Berzins. Council members Allison Hiltz and Francoise Bergan were also on the committee. The committee is created every couple of years to make minor changes to the council rules.

Hiltz was absent from the study session due to travel, but said on Facebook that she agreed with Johnston’s concern that the change could mean only a select few get their voices heard.

“As a strong supporter of allowing all constituents to be heard, even when there are 40 people speaking on the same topic, I am concerned about the impact this will have on our community’s ability to engage in the democratic process,” she said.

At the study session city council members also gave initial unanimous approval to a $2 fee for hotel rooms — that money would be used for marketing the city.

Council members also narrowly approved a rezoning plan for Original Aurora — which stretches from Yosemite Street to Peoria Street and East Sixth Avenue to East 26th Avenue. The item was tabled from a June meeting so city staff could perform more outreach to community members.

Ward I council member Crystal Murillo voted against the measure, citing concerns about possible displacement from the rezoning plan. Councilman Charlie Richardson also voted against the measure.